You Don’t Have To Be Einstein To Get Into College

Yes, Einstein was smart.  And we all know grades are important to get into college, but they’re not the only important things when it comes to college applications.  College applications are a daunting task.  They can determine where you spend the next four years (or more) of your life, which can determine the rest of your life.  When it comes to filling out college applications, you want to do it right.

  • Be open-minded.

Keep your options open.  Apply for multiple colleges.  Apply for colleges that have a reputable program for what you want to do.  Apply for colleges in locations where you want to live.  Some applications will be longer than others and require more documents to turn in with your application.  Don’t let the length of an application influence your choice of where to apply.

  • Make them think you’ve done it all.

Don’t be shy about what you include on your extra-curricular activities or volunteer list.  Include everything, and I mean everything.  Colleges want to know how you spent your time in high school and how you might spend your time in college.  If you volunteered at a small one-time event in your community, include it.  If you volunteered at a local shelter a couple of times, include it.

Don’t exaggerate your responsibilities or the hours you spent there, but the college admissions board will be pleased to see you’re involved with your community.  They want alumni that are going to make a difference to their university and community and are more likely to accept you if they think you are that person.

  • Choose wisely who recommends you.

Everyone will have a letter of recommendation saying they are hard working and motivated.  Think about your options when asking someone to write a letter of recommendation for you.  Do you know an alumnus of the university?  One that has contributed to the university or community?  If not, do you someone who has been influential in the community surrounding the university?  This can be harder if you are applying to a university out of state.

Networking is an important skill to start developing now.  Practice by carefully selecting the person you ask to write your letter.  Also be aware you ask someone who has seen you with the skills and characteristics a university might look for in their student.  Make sure you provide the person writing your letter with your résumé so they can include all of your accomplishments.

  • Make yourself stand out.

Some colleges require a personal essay.  That’s your time to shine.  Mom and Dad may have always taught you it’s not polite to brag about yourself, but this is an exception.  Brag away.  However, don’t just write the things you’ve done.  A lot of boys played football in high school; a lot of girls participated in Dance Company; every school has students that were a part of student government.  Yes, those things are important to include, but make your personal essay stand out.

Is there a specific lesson you learned from your extra-curricular activities?  Have you traveled to a unique place?  What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?  Think outside the box when it comes to this essay.  And when you’re done writing it, make sure you proofread it, your mother proofreads it, your English teacher proofreads it, and you proofread it again.  This essay won’t be graded, but points will be taken off for a poorly written introduction.

  • Be prepared.

Last but certainly not least, turn your application in on time.  With thousands of applicants, a university doesn’t care if you had six papers due that week for your AP classes.   Start checking deadlines now.  If next year’s deadlines aren’t posted, look at last year’s deadlines.  They’ll probably be about the same week.  It’s never too early to prepare for filling out an application.

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Jillian Jensen

Jillian Jensen

Jillian Jensen is a junior at the University of Utah majoring in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Print Journalism. Jillian is involved with student government and Greek Row at the U. Her biggest hobbies are writing, traveling and photography, but she also loves playing and teaching piano, skiing, dancing, sports and spending time with her family, friends and dog.
Jillian Jensen

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